Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: Let's Salsa/Bailemos Salsa

Title: Let's Salsa/Bailemos Salsa
Author: Lupe Ruiz-Flores
Illustrator: Robert Casilla
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Pages: 32
Review Copy: Supplied by Publisher
Availability: On Shelves Now

Summary: Estela can’t help but giggle when she sees her neighbors, Doña Rosa and Doña Maria, shaking their hips while dancing and sweating at an exercise class at the community recreation center. A few days later, when her mother complains about gaining weight, Estella encourages her to join the class.

Every day after school, Estela enjoys watching the women dance to the rhythmic music. And she’s especially thrilled when the instructor invites her to join them in dancing salsa. “Salsa? That’s what it’s called? I thought salsa was to eat with chips!”

But one day, kids are banned from the class, and Estella is forced to go to a boring crafts class instead. She’d much rather be dancing! So when Estella learns that women had to fight to gain the right to vote, she decides she’ll petition for kids’ rights to enjoy salsa dance classes at the community center!

In this bilingual picture book for children ages 5-9, a young girl learns that dancing is good for fun and fitness, and that even kids can change the way things are done. -- Cover image and summary via Arte Publico Press website

Review: The title of this book caught my attention since I attend dance classes every week and part of that time we are salsa dancing. In the story, Estela hears the music and sees how much fun the dancers are having and she convinces her mother to get involved. Of course Estela wants to try it too.

What I really liked about the book is that when Estela is faced with a challenge, she uses what she has learned from school about activism and goes after what she wants. Several grades in our school focus on how people can make a difference. Teachers have asked me many times for books about young people making a difference in the world so this will be another I can hand them.

Strangely enough, just last Wednesday at my adult dance class, one of my fourth grade students from school was hanging out at the door watching our class. The instructor invited her in and she had a blast. I know that it is part of the adult programming so I am curious to see if we will end up with a similar situation as that in the book if she continues to dance with us. This is a very realistic type of issue.

I look forward to sharing this book with teachers and students. It's definitely a book that has a distinct message about healthy habits and making a difference, but it is also fun. I plan to share salsa music and teach some steps to my students when I read this one aloud and I am sure we will have a fantastic time.

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